Tuesday, July 1

Oh, that's too bad.

A WSJ piece about children's author and illustrator Robert McCloskey, who died on Monday.

Make Way for Ducklings is one of my favorite picture books, ever. We still read out of the one I've had since I was a child. It shows the power of books on a young mind: when I think of Boston, ducks and even Irish policeman, it's always contextualized by Make Way for Ducklings.

The ducks in "Make Way for Ducklings" must find a place to live, nothing more and nothing less. That place will be in Boston, where a stout policeman named Michael (what else but an Irishman?) will help the nesting family navigate traffic. The Charles River, Beacon Hill and Louisburg Square set the scene.

The ducks' behavior is endowed with transcendent nuance, delightful to human children who recognize their own mothers in Mrs. Mallard. The mother duck puts her bill in the air and "walks along with an extra swing in her waddle" when a passerby admires her offspring. McCloskey wrote that Mrs. Mallard tells Mr. Mallard: " 'don't you worry, I know all about bringing up children.' And she did."

Palm Beach's reaction (along with other related stories from that perspective, linked on the right.)

Dreher on Scalia

The "great road" the court cut through American law in the Lawrence vs. Texas decision was the flattening of a rational jurisprudential basis to uphold a number of laws worth keeping. Justice Scalia writes, "State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers' validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today's decision."

That isn't strictly true. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy affirms that its decision involves neither minors, nor coercive or potentially injurious sexual activity, nor sex in public, nor prostitution, nor gay marriage. In her separate but concurring opinion, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor notes that a state has a legitimate interest in "preserving the traditional institution of marriage."

But this is all a matter of semantics, Justice Scalia says. While the court doesn't wish to acknowledge it, there is no getting around the fact that in the name of privacy, the court last week broadly rolled back the government's right to impose the majority's view of sexual morality on the minority.

"The law is constantly based on notions of morality, and if all laws representing essentially moral choices are to be invalidated under the due process clause, the courts will be very busy indeed," the Bowers decision said. Now, those laws have been implicitly invalidated, and the doors are open to a radical reformation of America's legal and moral landscape – all by an unelected judiciary. The courts might not do that, of course, but after Lawrence, there is little to restrain them.

That is what rightly galls Justice Scalia. "I would no more require a state to criminalize homosexual acts – or, for that matter, display any moral disapprobation of them – than I would forbid it to do so," he writes [the emphasis is his]. The Constitution properly leaves such matters to elected officials. Sodomy laws were fast disappearing because electorates ceased to support them. Just as it did in Griswold and Roe, the court has suspended the democratic process for the sake of the sexual revolution.

Ideas have consequences. Thirty years from now, Justice Scalia will be seen as a prophet. So, for that matter, will Sen. Rick Santorum, who, in the words of Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who takes a libertarian view on sexual matters, concedes that, post-Lawrence, the Pennsylvania Republican has "been proven pretty close to right." Well, yeah. That was obvious when Mr. Santorum made his controversial comments, but people were so busy fatuously denouncing him as a bigot they didn't notice the constitutional implications of his argument.

They will. So will we all. And soon

Misery in Baghdad

To Staff Sgt. Charles Pollard, the working-class suburb of Mashtal is a "very, very, very, very bad neighborhood." And he sees just one solution.

"U.S. officials need to get our [expletive] out of here," said the 43-year-old reservist from Pittsburgh, who arrived in Iraq with the 307th Military Police Company on May 24. "I say that seriously. We have no business being here. We will not change the culture they have in Iraq, in Baghdad. Baghdad is so corrupted. All we are here is potential people to be killed and sitting ducks."

To Sgt. Sami Jalil, a 14-year veteran of the local police force, the Americans are to blame. He and his colleagues have no badges, no uniforms. The soldiers don't trust them with weapons. In his eyes, his U.S. counterparts have already lost the people's trust.

"We're facing the danger. We're in the front lines. We're taking all the risks, only us," said the 33-year-old officer. "They're arrogant. They treat all the people as if they're criminals."

These are the dog days of summer in Mashtal, and tempers are flaring along a divide as wide as the temperatures are high.

Throughout the neighborhood, as in much of Baghdad, residents are almost frantic in their complaints about basic needs that have gone unmet -- enough electricity to keep food from spoiling, enough water to drink, enough security on the streets. At Mashtal's Rashad police station, where Pollard's unit is working to protect the police and get the Baath Party-era force back on its feet, the frustrations are personal and professional.

Many of the Iraqi officers despise the U.S. soldiers for what they see as unreasonable demands and a lack of respect. Many of the soldiers in Pollard's unit -- homesick, frustrated and miserable in heat that soars well into the 100s -- deem their mission to reconstitute the force impossible.

Attacks in Baghdad, things blowing up in Fallujah

O'Malley to Boston and

The pope named 53-year-old Gerald Barbarito, who has been bishop of Ogdensburg, New York, since October 1999, to replace O'Malley as Palm Beach's bishop and appointed Thomas Wenski bishop coadjutor of Orlando, the Vatican said.

Intersting that Orlando got a coadjutor - getting ready to replace Dorsey, I assume, who'll be 74 this year.

Good Lord, why don't they replace Bevilacqua? He's 80.

Michael on Wenski:

This is the real shocker of the day. Why does Orlando need a coadjutor? Is Bishop Dorsey sick?


Haven't planned all your vacation time?

Try Internet Pundit Fantasy Camp

In case you missed it...(and I did)

Bloggers gain some libel protection

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday that Web loggers, website operators and e-mail list editors can't be held responsible for libel for information they republish, extending crucial First Amendment protections to do-it-yourself online publishers. Online free speech advocates praised the decision as a victory. The ruling effectively differentiates conventional news media, which can be sued relatively easily for libel, from certain forms of online communication such as moderated e-mail lists. One implication is that DIY publishers like bloggers cannot be sued as easily.

Closing parishes in NYC

In a report to a meeting of the archdiocesan priests council in May, Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell said 408 archdiocesan priests under the age of 75 were active in the 413 parishes. About a quarter of the parishes are staffed by religious order priests, like the Salesians, who have run St. Thomas since 1979 and have decided to pull their priests out of St. Thomas.

According to minutes of the council meeting prepared by Cardinal Egan's secretary, the cardinal had wanted to reorganize the parishes last year but decided to tackle the archdiocese's finances first. He was also distracted by the sexual abuse scandal.

Bishop McDonnell told the priests that "It would be better to imagine the archdiocese as it is," but without imagining churches in their current locations. "Where would they be situated?"

In separate gatherings, Bishop McDonnell has told priests that based simply on numbers, Manhattan hypothetically needs only about a third of its 100 or so churches. Other factors come in to play, however, including proximity to worshipers, ethnic sensitivities and community and historical ties.

"You can never do this simply based on a mathematical formula," said Joseph Zwilling, the spokesman for the archdiocese.

But churches that are only blocks apart and may have served Irish or Slovak or Italian or German immigrants when New York's ethnic mix was different may be perceived as redundant by archdiocesan officials.

In the views of some, the effort is long overdue and partly brought on by the reluctance of Cardinal Egan's predecessor, Cardinal John O'Connor, to close churches. "The Catholic Church is not good at this," said the Rev. Walter F. Modrys, pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola on the Upper East Side. "The Catholic Church wants stability."Reflecting the sensitivity to public reaction against closings, priests at the meeting in May said as many people as possible, including parishioners, should be involved in the process.

"Yet, we must not forget that if we are not prudent about what we are to do," the minutes continued, "plans may be thwarted by small community groups who might, for example, have a building declared `landmarked' or demand that it be used for a particular purpose."


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